Tuesday virus news: Over 7,600 cases in Michigan | Detroit adds 23 deaths in a day | 'Wayne County is exploding'

March 31, 2020, 3:34 PM by  Alan Stamm

This collection of Metro Detroit and Michigan pandemic developments will be updated through Tuesday evening.

Grim month's last daily stats

The killer lung virus now affects 7,615 Michiganians and has killed 280 residents, including 73 Detroiters.

Statewide numbers Tuesday from the Department of Health and Human Services include 5,573 patients from the three-county Detroit area (73.2% of the total). The metro area has at least 179 deaths from COVID-19.

The latest 24-hour statewide update has 1,117 new cases and 132 added fatalities. (Separate figures from Detroit’s Health Department show 73 deaths and 2,086 patients since diagnoses began this grim month.)

(Graphic: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)

Confirmed cases statewide are 17.2% higher than Monday, a rate of increase slightly below the previous two days and notably lower than late last week when numbers rose by up to 28% in a day. That could be a possible sign of flattening the curve . . . maybe.

Michigan patients are 25 to 97 years old, with a median age of 68.

Here's how confirmed deaths break down in suburban Detroit counties:

  • Oakland: 48

  • Wayne: 31

  • Macomb: 37

The state says 22,127 COVID tests have been performed, with 5,360 (24.2%) positive results confirming respiratory infection.

Detroit toll jumps

The city records 23 more coronavirus deaths in the past day and more than 2,000 confirmed cases of the disease, signifcant jumps in a steadily climbing toll.

The Detroit News has a Detroit Health Department update listing 2,086 cases of the virus among residents and 73 deaths.

The numbers are up from 1,804 cases and 50 deaths the day prior. ...

Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday that he expects the city's confirmed cases will continue to grow in the coming weeks as the city steps up its COVID-19 testing.

Detroit is a nationally watched hotspot for the virulent lung virus.

'We are all in it together' -- DMC doctor

Dr. Teena Chopra: "We all need resources." (Photo: Wayne State University)

Amid the current crisis care demands, there's no rivalry among Metro Detroit hospitals. DMC, Beaumont Health and Henry Ford Health System. They're "making a lot of decisions as a combined health care system in Southeast Michigan," says Dr. Teena Chopra, chief of infectious diseases at Detroit Medical Center, in a Detroit News interview. 

"We are all in it together, and we all need help, and we all need resources — three times more resources than we currently have. ... Wayne County is pretty much exploding at this time. ...

"We have been transferring patients elsewhere, and we are really looking forward to the arrangements being made at the (TCF) Center," said Chopra, referring to bed spaces being created at the Detroit convention center for patients with mild symptoms.

"We know that this week and the coming few weeks are going to be very tough on us — just like New York. We have asked for help, just like every other Southeast Michigan hospital."

Detroit schools' grim news

Detroit is one of the hardest-hit U.S. cities, with only New York City and New Orleans registering more cases. This city has more than 1,800 confirmed cases and 52 deaths as of Monday.

'Arsenal of Health' to make ventilators

Five hundred UAW workers on three daily shifts will assemble hospital ventilators at a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, starting in three weeks.

The automaker says it plans to make 50,000 of the $7,000 medical devices by early July to help meet demand as the coronavirus pandemic worsens. Ford is partnering with GE Healthcare on the emergency project. GE licensed a simplified design that runs on air pressure and doesn't need electricity.

These 6.5-pound ventiators, which don't use electricity, begin flowing off the Ypsilanti line in three weeks. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

They'll be built at the Rawsonville Components Plant. A media release says the production line starts April 20, with 1,500 ventilators to be ready by the end of April, another 10,500 by the end of May and the rest (38,000) by July 4.

After that, Ford predicts it will be able to build up to 30,000 ventilators a month, as needed. 

"From the days of Rosie the Riveter, UAW members have stepped up during difficult times in this nation's history for the good of us all," UAW President Rory Gamble says in a statement.

Carhartt joins fight

Carhartt, the Dearborn-based maker of rugged wear, will start making 50,000 medical gowns April 6 and face masks April 20 at its plant in Camden, Tenn., and three plants in Kentucky.

It's also exploring local production through a partnership with the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center on Cass Avenue in Detroit, a news release says.

'Signs of our resolve'

"Take this isolation as a sign of our togetherness," says the narrator is this one-minute public service spot from Doner Advertising of Southfield, watched 58,000 times in its first 16 hours on social media.

"We don't stop in the name of fear, we stop in the name of love" is its tagline:

'Enjoy the food' - Lizzo

Lunch for Henry Ford Hospital Emergency Room personnel on Monday came from Lizzo, a Grammy-winning Detroit native.

“It’s definitely not easy and you guys are putting yourselves on the front line," she says in the video below. "So because of that I wanted to treat y’all to a meal and I really hope that you guys enjoy the food."

Another event bumped

(Graphic: IndyCar Series)

Motor City Comic Con won't happen May 15-17 in Novi. The yearly Suburban Collection Showplace event is postponed indefinitely.

The move follows a four-month delay of a big Detroit Regional Chamber conference and cancellation of the Detroit Auto Show.

Stay tuned for word on the Detroit Grand Prix, still inexplicably selling tickets for May 29-31 on Belle Isle -- though four March and April races in the same IndyCar series are cancelled. May 9 and May 24 races bump to July and August.

'Walking directly into the fire'

Forbes this week salutes 15 U.S. doctors, including one from Detroit, who "have leadership roles in their positions and are dealing with the pandemic in different ways."

Dr. Rana Awdish: "I'm worried that the pace of the disease will outpace our ability." (Photo: Facebook)

Dr. Rana L. Awdish, a 45-year-old pulmonologist and critical care specialist at Henry Ford Health System, is a 2002 graduate of Wayne State Medical School who lives in Northville. She gives the business magazine a glimpse of her team's struggles now: 

"We had the really good fortune of being in the middle of the country and seeing what was happening in both New York and Washington State, and having more time to prepare. So I can say we haven't faced shortages yet, and we've tried to secure what we think we'll need going forward.

"But we've had people in every sphere of our work test positive: from environmental service workers to nurses to physicians. I think all of my colleagues I've talked to just sort of assume we will get it, but I feel safe in the hospital.

"We're truly learning as we go, from each other. I participated in a conference call with physicians from Wuhan, China, to learn from their experience. It was really humbling—in many ways they've handled this so much better than our country. They have better personal protection equipment than we have here. It was really the first time I've felt behind in medicine.

"I'm worried that the pace of the disease will outpace our ability to care for patients in a way that's aligned with their needs. But I’ve been amazed at how willing to self-sacrifice people in healthcare are. Everyone's walking directly into the fire, and there's no thought about what that means for their own personal well-being."

Military support at food banks

Michigan National Guard members are on duty through mid-April at three Southeast Michigan food banks and one near Grand Rapids. About 10 military members at each drive-up distribution site are helping with traffic control, bagging fruit and carrying packages to vehicles at the drive-through distribution ocation through mid-April.

Locations are Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor, Gleaners in Pontiac, Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint and Feeding America West Michigan in Comstock Park.

Separately, about 160 members of a Lansing-based military police unit just began supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency with medical, transportation and logistical tasks in Michigan. 

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